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This content will become publicly available on June 28, 2023

Title: Leafy and weedy seadragon genomes connect genic and repetitive DNA features to the extravagant biology of syngnathid fishes
Seadragons are a remarkable lineage of teleost fishes in the family Syngnathidae, renowned for having evolved male pregnancy. Comprising three known species, seadragons are widely recognized and admired for their fantastical body forms and coloration, and their specific habitat requirements have made them flagship representatives for marine conservation and natural history interests. Until recently, a gap has been the lack of significant genomic resources for seadragons. We have produced gene-annotated, chromosome-scale genome models for the leafy and weedy seadragon to advance investigations of evolutionary innovation and elaboration of morphological traits in seadragons as well as their pipefish and seahorse relatives. We identified several interesting features specific to seadragon genomes, including divergent noncoding regions near a developmental gene important for integumentary outgrowth, a high genome-wide density of repetitive DNA, and recent expansions of transposable elements and a vesicular trafficking gene family. Surprisingly, comparative analyses leveraging the seadragon genomes and additional syngnathid and outgroup genomes revealed striking, syngnathid-specific losses in the family of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), which likely involve reorganization of highly conserved gene regulatory networks in ways that have not previously been documented in natural populations. The resources presented here serve as important tools for future evolutionary studies of developmental more » processes in syngnathids and hold value for conservation of the extravagant seadragons and their relatives. « less
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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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